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In re Lyric A.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

October 12, 2017

IN RE LYRIC A.

          Session July 11, 2017

         Appeal from the Chancery Court for Warren County No. 555-A Larry B. Stanley, Jr., Chancellor

         This appeal arises from the termination of Mother's parental rights with respect to her minor child. Father and Grandmother jointly filed a "Petition for Termination and Adoption" to terminate Mother's parental rights and to allow Grandmother to adopt the child without terminating Father's parental rights. The trial court granted the petition and Mother appeals. We have determined that petitioners do not have standing to petition the court to terminate Mother's parental rights in order to allow Grandmother to adopt the child without terminating Father's parental rights. Therefore, we reverse and remand with instructions to dismiss the petition for lack of standing.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery Court Reversed.

          Daniel Barnes, Sparta, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jamie A. [1]

          Mary Little Pirtle, McMinnville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Patricia A. and Stanley A.

          Frank G. Clement Jr., P.J., M.S. delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Andy D. Bennett and Richard H. Dinkins, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          FRANK G. CLEMENT JR., P.J., M.S.

         Stanley A. ("Father") and Jamie A. ("Mother") divorced in 2009. Lyric A., who is still a minor, is their child. The final divorce decree incorporated a permanent parenting plan which designated Father as the primary residential parent and granted Mother 110 days of visitation per year with alternating holidays. Mother frequently used drugs and was arrested and incarcerated on several occasions. A majority of the time, Lyric lived with Father and Father's mother, Patricia A. ("Grandmother").

         On March 23, 2015, Father and Grandmother jointly filed a "Petition for Termination and Adoption, " alleging that Mother had willfully failed to visit and willfully failed to support Lyric for more than four consecutive months prior to the filing of the petition. They asked the court to terminate Mother's parental rights on abandonment grounds, pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-102(1)(A)(i), and to allow Grandmother to adopt Lyric without terminating Father's parental rights.

         The trial court held a hearing on November 23, 2015. In a written order entered on November 25, 2015, the trial court terminated Mother's parental rights. Mother appealed. Upon review of the record in the first appeal we found deficiencies with the judgment appealed from and remanded the case with instructions for the trial court to make more detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law and to enter judgment accordingly.

         Upon remand, the trial court entered a revised judgment in which it stated its specific findings of fact and conclusions of law and held that the petitioners proved by clear and convincing evidence that Mother had abandoned the child by willfully failing to visit and by willfully failing to financially support the child and that termination of her rights was in the child's best interest. Based on these findings and conclusions, the trial court terminated Mother's parental rights and granted Grandmother's petition to adopt the child without terminating Father's parental rights. This appeal followed.

         Analysis

         On appeal, Mother asked us to consider (1) whether the trial court properly determined that grounds existed for the termination of Mother's parental rights, and (2) whether the trial court properly determined that termination of Mother's parental rights was in Lyric's best interest. However, we have determined that the ...


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